Tri-State Closing Escalante Plant In New Mexico, Red-Flag Gun Legislation Draws Sheriffs' Opposition

Jan 9, 2020

Tri-State To Close Coal Facilities In Colorado, New MexicoDenver Post, Associated Press

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association plans to close two of its coal-fired power plants and a coal mine in Colorado and New Mexico.

The Denver Post reports the utility plans to close the Escalante Station in New Mexico by the end of this year. It also plans to close two units at the Craig Station plant in Craig, Colorado, and its operation at the Colowyo Mine in northwest Colorado by 2030.

The closures will affect about 600 employees. Tri-State serves 43 electric associations in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

New Mexico Fines Air Force $1.7 Million Over GroundwaterAssociated Press

The New Mexico Environment Department is fining the U.S. Air Force nearly $1.7 million for not complying with rules aimed at protecting groundwater.

The agency says Cannon Air Force Base let its groundwater discharge permit expire in March 2019 and has released wastewater despite not having a permit.

The base did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment about the allegations and the penalty.

State officials are concerned because the base near Clovis is among those around the U.S. where contamination from past firefighting activities has been reported. The contamination is linked to chemicals known as PFAS.

US Plutonium Production Plan Likely To Spur Legal Challenge  - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

The agency that oversees the United States' nuclear arsenal says it doesn't need to do a broad environmental review of a proposal that calls for ramping up production of plutonium triggers at federal installations in New Mexico and South Carolina.

A key component of every nuclear weapon, most of the plutonium cores in the stockpile were produced in the 1970s and 1980s.

The National Nuclear Security Administration has released a supplemental analysis related to the production project, saying the determination was made after reviewing documentation and public comments.  

Nuclear watchdogs and other critics argue that the decision skirts requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

City Mayor In New Mexico Resigns Amid Criminal ChargesAssociated Press

The mayor of the northern New Mexico city of Las Vegas has resigned two weeks after she was indicted on charges of bribery and accepting kickbacks.

Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron announced the decision in a letter read Wednesday at a City Council work session. City officials say Gurulé-Girón had previously said she would not run for reelection.

Prosecutors say Gurule-Giron was charged in December with six felonies related to abuse of power, bid rigging and offering and receiving bribes.

Officials say she pleaded not guilty Monday to all the criminal charges against her. Officials say the criminal case against Gurulé-Girón alleges she pressured city employees to give contracts to her boyfriend's construction company.

Man Accused Of Murder In Woman's Death And Young Son MissingAssociated Press

New Mexico authorities have issued an arrest warrant accusing a Roswell man of first-degree murder in the death of the mother of their now-missing young son.

Roswell police say 32-year-old Jorge Rico-Ruvira is sought in the homicide of 27-year-old Isela Mauricio-Sanchez. She was found dead Tuesday at her home and police say the boy is believed to be with Rico-Ruvira and possibly headed to Mexico.  

New Mexico State Police officers say the boy is missing and believed to be in danger. Authorities say the pair are believed to be traveling in a 2003 maroon GMC Yukon SUV turquoise New Mexico license plate MNF231.

Authorities urge anyone with information to contact the Roswell Police Department or call 911.

US Border Arrests Drop As Focus Turns To Mexicans - By Elliot Spagat, Associated Press

Authorities say the number of people arrested or stopped entering the United States along the Mexico border fell for a seventh straight month in December. with Mexicans making up a larger than usual part of the mix.

U.S. authorities said Thursday they made 40,620 arrests or detentions of people on the Mexico border in December, down 5% from 42,651 in November and down 72% from a 13-year high of 144,116 in May.

The Trump administration has begun a host of enforcement measures, including a test to quickly determine asylum claims and deporting Mexicans to the central Mexico city of Guadalajara to discourage repeat attempts.

Red-Flag Gun Legislation Draws Opposition In New Mexico - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

Sheriffs across across much of New Mexico are opposed to a legislative proposal from Democratic lawmakers that would allow police or relatives to petition a court to temporarily take away guns from people who might harm themselves or others. 

Sierra County Sheriff Glenn Hamilton says the New Mexico Sheriffs' Association wants to ensure due process protections remain in place for gun owners and that no compromise has been reached with state lawmakers drafting "red-flag" legislation for the session that begins Jan. 21. 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday threw her political weight behind red-flag proposals. 

ACLU Sues School District Over Racist Comment - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico is suing the state's largest school district over a 2018 incident where a teacher allegedly cut the hair of a Native American student during class on Halloween.

The teacher is also accused of asking another student if she was dressed as a "bloody Indian." The ACLU filed the complaint Wednesday. It targets Albuquerque Public Schools, contending the teacher created a hostile learning environment and acted in a discriminatory way.

The school district at the time apologized and told parents that the teacher would not return to school. School officials declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Candidate Questions Rationale For Killing Iranian General - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

New Mexico congressional candidate and former CIA operative Valerie Plame is wading into the discussion about President Trump's rationale for ordering the killing of a top Iranian general.

Plame on Wednesday questioned Trump's justification for ordering the attack and said the lives of thousands of American troops are at risk. She expressed her belief that Trump is willing to ignite a war to boost his reelection chances and warned that White House descriptions of secret intelligence assessments can't be trusted.

Plame is running for the Democratic nomination in a northern New Mexico district.

Trump says the killing stopped attacks on Americans.

Santa Fe Archbishop Issues Safety Directive For Flu Season - Associated Press

The head of New Mexico's largest Catholic diocese has issued directives aimed at protecting parishioners during flu season. 

Archbishop John Wester cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying New Mexico is one of the states experiencing widespread flu outbreaks. He's urging people not to shake hands or hug when they attend Mass. Parishioners also are being asked not to hold hands while reciting the Our Father and those who are ill should stay home to avoid spreading the virus. 

Wester said in his message to parishioners that the directives will be revoked when the situation improves.

New Mexico To Host World's Largest Meeting On Chile Peppers - Associated Press

New Mexico State University is preparing to host the world's largest conference dedicated to chile peppers. 

The 2020 New Mexico Chile Conference will run Feb. 3-4 at the Las Cruces Convention Center. 

The university's Chile Pepper Institute has been organizing the annual conference for about three decades. It draws experts in breeding, processing, pest management and overall sustainability of the industry. Students also will present their pepper-related research during the two-day gathering. 

Chile has long been one of New Mexico's signature crops. It's the state vegetable and the basis for the official state question: "Red or green?"

New Mexico Commissioners Appoint New House RepresentativeAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

County officials in New Mexico have appointed a retired lawyer and educator to fill the seat in the state House of Representatives after the former representative passed away Christmas Day.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday that Bernalillo County commissioners appointed Democrat Marian Matthews to replace Rep. Bill Pratt. Pratt represented House District 27, which includes part of northeast Albuquerque.

Officials say Matthews' term will run until Dec. 31, 2020.

Matthews' says she was a former prosecutor who represented children removed from their homes and wants to address Albuquerque's violence and crime in her new position.

Company Eyes Texas-New Mexico Fracking Sand Transport SystemCarlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

A company is seeking to build a multi-mile conveyor belt system that could bring sand for hydraulic fracturing from West Texas to southeast New Mexico.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the Atlas Sand Company is hoping to erect a 16.5-mile covered overland conveyor belt system to carry the sand from an offloading facility in Loving County, Texas, to a proposed facility near Loving, New Mexico.

The company is seeking a permanent, 70-foot-wide right of way across federally managed land.

Search For Boy Begins After Mother Found Dead In New MexicoAssociated Press

New Mexico authorities have started the search for a boy and his father after his mother was found dead in a southeast Roswell home.

Authorities say the boy is believed to be with his 32-year-old father Jorge Rico-Ruvira and possibly headed to Mexico. Authorities say the death of 27-year-old Isela Mauricio-Sanchez Tuesday was ruled a homicide.

New Mexico State Police officers say the boy is missing and believed to be in danger. Authorities say the pair are believed to be traveling in a 2003 maroon GMC Yukon SUV. They urge anyone with information to contact the Roswell Police Department or call 911.

Virgin Galactic's Next Spaceship Reaches Build Milestone - By John Antczak, Associated Press

Virgin Galactic says its next passenger spaceship has reached a major construction milestone.

The company said Wednesday that all major structural elements have been assembled and the rocket plane is standing on its own landing gear at Mojave Air & Space Port in California.

Photos of the "Weight on Wheels" achievement show the craft in a hangar next to the Virgin Space Ship Unity spacecraft. It has already been to space in preparation for commercial operations based at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico.

CEO George Whitesides says there has  been progress on the manufacture of a third craft. The company anticipates commercial flights this year.